The first task prior to ever filming the Tribe was to design what was really in the mind of Creator and Executive Producer – Raymond Thompson. There were meetings with the Executive Producer, Executive in Charge of Production and the Producer to decide on specifics, these ideas were then passed on to the set designers who submit sketches.
Once the sketches were locked-off, specialist set builders were contracted to build this huge permanent structure. It took almost 5 weeks of round the clock building to construct what is said to be the largest permanent set in New Zealand. Nothing is left untouched. Every shop is built to almost realistic shop size specifications, with utmost importance placed on building a safe and longstanding structure.
The main set of the interior of the Mall was constructed over a period of 5 weeks by specialist set builders. They had to work around the clock due to the time contraints of the commencement of filming.
Upon the completion of building, the art department, on instuction from the Producer and the Production Designer, go about designing and dressing what each shop should look like and how it should be ‘dressed’ for each scene. A ‘dressed set’ means a set which is especially made up and constructed with all props in place ready for filming to go ahead.
In addition to the permanent mall set located in Studio A, Studio B houses temporary structures that are built for certain scenes and then demolished when the scene has been completed. Also included in Studio B were the sewers (and secret escape route from the mall) with water, fake bricks and cobwebs. This has since been torn down to make way for the filming of Atlantis High which was also filmed in both studios. However, the mall set was only repainted and dressed accordingly for Atlantis High. The actual structure from the Tribe remains exactly the same and is ready waiting for Series IV filming.
Production meetings occur once a week to discuss the next weeks scene filming, including locking-off scripts and designs for each scene. The art departments’ responsibility is then to ensure that each set is ready to go for when the scenes are planned to be filmed. There is a set timetable and plan by which they run by and is all determined by the ‘callsheet’. (see report on call sheets).
The props department are a sub department of the Art department and are in charge of the delivery and organisation of every prop used per scene. There is a special storage warehouse where each item is kept after use, in case it needs to be called upon for a future scene.
Items often used in the tribe were candles, smoke (dry ice), old supermarket trollies, fires, rubbish, graffiti, old trashed cars and more! The art department often had a fun job making sets look as messy as possible to recreate the ‘trashed’ look of the streets and shops.
Several locations are used for the Tribe. The Location Manager is in charge of ‘rece’ing various locations (short for reconnaisance) that could be used for certain scenes. Such locations in the Tribe include metal yards, gas works, riversides, parks, farms, streets, hotels, beaches, rail yards, old army and naval bases. After sourcing these locations the DOP (Director of Photography) Art Department Manager, Producer, Production Manager, and Director all go on a ‘rece’ to judge the suitability of locations for the planned scenes.
A number of unique cars and wagons were required on set, mainly out on location, and were adapted especially to be used on the Tribe. These included the Locos police car, the Chosen vans, and a beach buggy.